Want Loyal Patients? Follow These Tips
Most dentists know how important attracting new patients is to practice success, and they often put a lot of time and money into bringing these patients through the front door. Yes, new patients are great, but they don’t do you much good if they never come back.
If you want your practice to meet its full potential, it’s important to focus on keeping the patients you already have as well as turning first-time patients into loyal patients. A strong patient base will help ensure practice productivity, and that means a more robust bottom line.
So how do you keep patients loyal to your practice? Follow these tips to build a strong base of patients who entrust you with their care.
Provide exceptional customer service. This starts when patients first call to schedule their appointment and continues the entire time they’re at your practice. Train team members to greet them with a friendly smile and offer water or coffee as they wait to see you. Offer to help them fill out their paperwork and let them know they’re in good hands. Focus on keeping patients comfortable, and they’ll not only be more relaxed during their appointment, they’ll be more likely to come back for treatment.
Build a rapport. Patients want to feel a connection with your practice and know you truly care about their well-being. Instead of just focusing on the dentistry, get to know your patients and encourage your team members to do the same. Ask about their jobs and their families, and talk about their oral health goals. This will go a long way in earning trust and loyalty.
Educate them. Take the time to educate patients about what’s going on in their mouths and why they need treatment. Answer questions and address concerns. This will also help patients feel more connected to your practice, making them more likely to schedule treatment with you.
Consider hiring a Treatment Coordinator. As a busy dentist, you often don’t have enough time to go over every aspect of treatment with patients. That’s where a Treatment Coordinator comes in. This team member can spend as much time as necessary talking patients through everything from what to expect during and after the procedure to how much treatment will cost.
Train your Treatment Coordinator to follow up with patients two days after the initial presentation. During these calls, this team member should continue educating patients about the possible consequences of not going forward with treatment, and ultimately get them on the schedule.
Make time for patients. When patients call your practice with questions or to schedule an appointment, they don’t want to feel like they’re bothering the team member who answers, or like they’re being rushed off the phone. Train team members to properly handle patient calls and see them as opportunities for growth, not as disruptions. When you do, you’ll soon notice your patient base and number of new patient appointments start to rise.
Stop ignoring recall. This is one of the most important practice systems, but also one of the most neglected. If you want more loyal patients, it might be time to reactivate your recall system. How? Consider hiring a Patient Coordinator who is responsible for reaching out to a certain number of recall patients each day. Use these calls as an opportunity to educate patients about the importance of maintaining their oral health and scheduling treatment. This will help get patients who are on the fence about treatment back into your practice.
Don’t keep patients waiting. Your patients are busy people and don’t have time to wait all afternoon to see you. This is a sure way to lose patients. If you find you’re often falling behind, it might be time to talk with your Scheduling Coordinator. Maybe you’re being double-booked, or not being scheduled enough time for certain procedures. No matter the problem, provide the team member with the necessary training to get your schedule back on track.
Be a leader. If your practice is in disarray, your patients will notice. Give team members the guidance they need to excel through detailed job descriptions, feedback and performance measurements. This will make them more effective and confident in their roles, while also enabling them to spend more time focusing on your patients – resulting in a more efficient practice with happy team members and happy patients.
The more loyal patients you have, the more successful your practice will be. Focus on keeping your patients happy and not only will they stay loyal, they’ll also refer you to family and friends, helping you grow your patient base and your bottom line even more.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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